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Friday, November 8, 2013

Eat Like a Bear, written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Steve Jenkins. Henry Holt and Company, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2013. $18.99 ages 4 and up

"Drink like a bear -
from a stream.
Leaping trout?
None about.
Bushes? Bare.
No berries there.
It's been four long
months since fall,
when you were full."

Six years ago April Pulley Sayre and Steve Jenkins collaborated to create Vulture View (Henry Holt, 2007), an impressive and gladly used study of one of nature's oft-maligned species. In their new book, they bring that same sense of wonder to their study of the brown bear. Using poetic text once more, the author invites readers to put themselves in the bear's body as it awakens from a long winter sleep. Spring is busting out all over, and this question is posed: "Can you eat like a bear?"

As said bear moves forward through the seasons, we are asked time and again to consider similar questions about the bear's food rituals as it explores its habitat, searches for food to sustain itself and ensures enough food to take it back to the next winter's sleep.

"Can you scratch like a bear? Find a tree.
Shuffle. Pause.
With long, strong claws,
dig in. Dig down.
Paw and claw and pull.

As we travel through the seasons, we learn about its omnivorous lifestyle, its unending search for sustenance and the many types of food it eats. The author provides an informative look at food habits, hibernation, interaction with humans concerning food and other tidbits that young readers are sure to find fascinating in the back matter, and an author's note that explains how this lovely book came to be.  

Ah, Steve Jenkins! I have been singing his praises since I first became familiar with his work. He wows his audience with his notable torn and cut paper collage work, creating textured images that bring his bears to life on the pages of this entertaining and informative text. Look beyond the bear to see the beautiful backdrop of streams, mountains, forest and plains. Wonderful!


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